Russia was granted the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, in part due to an alleged Russian crime boss and heroin kingpin, ABC News reported on Thursday.
US treasury officials describe Gafur Rakhimov – who is currently under criminal indictment in Uzbekistan – as having “operated major international drug syndicates involving the trafficking of heroin.”
“He is one of the four or five most important people in the heroin trade in the world,” Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan told ABC. “He's absolutely a very major and dangerous gangster.”
In fact, Rakhimov was banned from the 2000 Olympics in Australia because of his alleged criminal ties. He doesn't plan on attending the Sochi Games, the report added.
Despite his alleged ties to the crime world, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee thanked Rakhimov, praising his “single-minded work” in obtaining votes from some Asian countries so that Sochi could host the upcoming Olympics.
According to Murray, the former British ambassador, Rakhimov's drug trade flows through Central Asia, then on to Russia, and then further into Europe.
A Russian investigative journalist cited in the report claims that Rakhimov has substantial ties to top Russian officials.
“There was obviously some sort of agreement between the Kremlin and the ‘thieves-in-law,'” said reporter Sergei Kanev.
Ever since the Olympics were awarded to Sochi (one of President Vladimir Putin's favorite resort towns in Russia) in 2007, Putin has denied that there was any corruption involved.
“If anyone has any concrete data on instances of corruption in implementing the Sochi Olympics Project, we ask to furnish us with objective data,” a spokesman for Putin said.
Rakhimov, through a translator, said that bribes weren't necessary in obtaining the Olympic rights for Russia.